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Difference Between Amazon EBS and Amazon EFS
  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 08 Feb, 2021

The AWS EFS(Elastic file system) and AWS EBS(Elastic block storage) are two different types of storage services provided by Amazon Web Services. This article highlights some major differences between Amazon EFS and Amazon EBS.

What is AWS EBS?

EBS(Elastic block storage) is a block-level storage service provided by Amazon and it is basically designed to be used exclusively with separate EC2 instances, no two instances can have the same EBS volume attached to them. As EBS is directly attached to the instance it provides a high-performance option for many use cases, and it is used for various databases (both relational and non-relational) and also for a wide range of applications such as Software Testing and development.

EBS stores files in multiple volumes called blocks, which act as separate hard drives, and this storage is not accessible via the internet.

Note that Elastic block storage is similar to a hard-drive connected to a physical computer and this storage can be attached and detached at any time.



What is AWS EFS?

EFS(Elastic file system) is a file-level storage service that basically provides a shared elastic file system with virtually unlimited scalability support. EFS is highly available storage that can be utilized by many servers at the same time. AWS EFS is a fully managed service by amazon and it offers scalability on the fly. This means that the user need not worry about their increasing or decreasing workload. If the workload suddenly becomes higher then the storage will automatically scale itself and if the workload decreases then the storage will itself scale down. This scalability feature of EFS also provides cost benefits as you need not pay anything for the part of storage that you don’t use, you only pay for what you use(Utility-based computing).

One most important feature of EFS that makes it different from all other storage is that the IOPS rate in EFS is inversely proportional to the size of data. For example, if the size of data is less, then the performance and IOPS rate might be not much significant but when used more heavily, EFS can offer as much as 10 GB/sec along with 500,000 IOPS.

Comparison based on Characteristics:

Storage Type

EBS(elastic block storage) & EFS(elastic file system), as the name suggests EBS is block-level storage and EFS is file-level storage.

Availability

As we know that EBS is directly attached to the instance so there is no sign of the term availability in it whereas Amazon EFS is highly durable and highly available storage.

Durability

EBS is similar to hard disks but the only difference is that EBS is connected to virtual EC2 instances and it offers 20 times more reliability than normal hard disks.

EFS is highly durable storage.

Performance

EBS offers a Baseline performance of 3 IOPS per GB for General Purpose volume and also we can use Provisioned IOPS for increased performance whereas EFS supports up to 7000 file system operations per second.



Data Stored

The data stored in EBS remains in the same availability zone and multiple replicas are created within the same availability zone whereas in EFS the data stored remains in the same region and multiple replicas are created within the same region.

Comprehensive managed service

EFS is a completely managed service, which means that your firm will never have to patch, deploy, or maintain your file system, but the same is not the case with EBS.

Data Access

One most important disadvantage of EBS is that it cannot be accessed directly via the internet, it can only be accessed by a single EC2 instance with whom it is connected, whereas EFS storage allows access of 1 to 1000s of EC2 instances concurrently via the internet but these instances must be present in the same region only.

Encryption

Both EBS and EFS supports encryption and uses an AWS KMS–Managed Customer Master Key (CMK) and AES 256-bit Encryption standards for encryption.

File Size Limitation

As EBS is directly connected to the EC2 instance so we have don’t have any limitation on file size whereas in EFS the maximum size of a single file can be up to 47.9TiB.

Cost savings

EFS is the only storage in which you’ll pay for is exactly what you use, as there’s no advance provisioning, up-front fees, or commitments whereas in EBS you need to attach a fixed amount of volume, and you are charged for the same.

Use cases

Amazon EBS use cases:

  • Software Testing and development: Amazon EBS is connected only to a particular instance, so it is best suited for testing and development purposes.
  • Business continuity: Amazon EBS provides a good level of business consistency as users can run applications in different AWS regions and all they require is EBS Snapshots and Amazon machine images.
  • Enterprise-wide applications: EBS provides block-level storage, so it allows users to run a wide variety of applications including Microsoft Exchange, Oracle, etc.
  • Transactional and NoSQL databases: As EBS provides a low level of latency so it offers an optimum level of performance for transactional and NO SQL databases. It also helps in database management.

Amazon EFS use cases:

  • Lift-and-shift application support: EFS is elastic, highly available, and highly scalable storage, and these all features and enables users to move enterprise applications easily and quickly.
  • Analytics for big data: EFS has got the ability to run big data applications.
  • Web server support: EFS is a highly robust throughput file system and is capable of enabling web serving applications, such as websites, or blogs.
  • Application development and testing: Among different storages provided by Amazon EFS is the only one that provides a shared file system needed to share code and files.

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